Friday Flashback #71

I remember Westport Bank & Trust.

The grand old bank sat at the junction of Church Lane and the Post Road — right between the equally magnificent Tudor-style Westport YMCA , and the very popular Fine Arts Theater.

Today, the Y’s Bedford building is Anthropologie. The Fine Arts is Restoration Hardware.

And Westport Bank & Trust — after crawling through a few incarnations with names like Lafayette and Hudson Banks — has emerged as Patagonia.

(Pink Sumo occupies the lower level, where the safe deposit boxes once stood.)

I even remember many stories about Westport Bank & Trust — including the lengths to which president Einar Andersen would go, making sure that service veterans and other worthy citizens got personal and business loans.

I remember the bank’s tagline: “A hometown bank in a town of homes.”

You can see it (in a slightly briefer version) in Ann Runyon’s photo:

But what I don’t remember is what the image above shows. Apparently, this was a piggy bank.

If you’ve got any Westport Bank & Trust memories, click “Comments” below.

45 responses to “Friday Flashback #71

  1. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know what it was.

  2. We bought our first home in Westport in 1965. We were new to Westport, kids, 27 years old, and needed a mortgage. I went to several banks up and down “State Street” and was greeted with lots of negatives. Then we walked into Westport Bank and Trust…there he was, Einar Anderson, sitting at his desk at the “point” of the building. He stood up, greeted me with a firm warm handshake. After hearing what we needed he said “Son, it’s easy to see that you are just starting your career and will do well. Don’t worry, we will back you all the way.” Well, that’s exactly what happened…the support continued in spades when we bought our current home at the beach. Names of these supports remain in my mind…in addition to Einar there was his son Bill..John Stone…his nephew William..Tess Perry…wow. So many memories including at this time of year Santa…to the right of the front door handing out promises and coloring books to my now very grown kids. God bless each and every employee ar WB&T who made our early years in Westport so possible and enjoyable.

    • Loretta Santella Hallock

      My Dad John Santella often spoke fondly of Mr. Anderson . Back than it was a handshake to seal the deal.

  3. Back when elm trees ruled!

    • I always loved that they would unlock the doors if I was a few minutes late, rescind a bounced check charge and gave me my 1st mortgage.

  4. And I had a PINK piggy bank — I remember giving it away, but not who got it. mmm

  5. As a young teacher, Westport Bank and Trust gave me my first mortgage when other banks refused. WBT was a great community bank!

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      Gerry, talk about a George Bailey story!!! Imagine the people who would’ve been impacted if you had not gotten that mortgage and stayed at Staples.
      Happy Holidays!!!!
      Eric B.

  6. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    No keepsakes, but a story or two: My 22 year old war widowed mother in 1943 had overdrawn her checking account and couldn’t get it straight with what notes she could find. All of the cancelled checks she had were in a shoe box. She was probably too embarrassed to ask a relative or friend for help. She went in tears to Bill Stone, who was the bank’s treasurer, if I remember correctly, he hugged her and said: “Martha, don’t worry, bring the shoe box to me and I’ll get it straightened out.” My mother would never have banked anywhere else for the rest of her life.They were more than bankers, they were real friends to their customers. I also remember opening my 1st savings account at age six and being blown away that they would pay me just for holding on to my money. It was a passbook account (which were common back then) and I used to bring it in every month so they could post the interest and I could see my money grow. Getting paid for doing nothing. Would wonders ever cease!

  7. When I was 18 I needed a credit card to take on a solo trip to California. It was impossible for someone my age to get a credit card…or was it? My mother make a call to her connection at WBT, explained the situation, and it was taken care of.

  8. Very nice stories. “It’s a Wonderful Life” redux!

  9. I am not trying to be Scrooge at this holiday time but in 1940 Westport Bank and Trust thought my late father and late Uncle were crazy to open a cleaner and laundry in Westport so they turned down their loan application to buy a machine in New Haven and bring it to WestportBUT PJ Romano senior
    Who delivered the oil loaned them the money and brought the machine here.They had a very successful forty year run thanks to a very kind .man.On the other hand Westport National Bank and the late Isabel Rogalin treated them like gold Hence a real Westport story.PS they paid Mr.Romano back in 6 months as they worked nonstop doing laundry and cleaning during the war So it goes

  10. I remember Bill Anderson-Longtime President of the Bank and was schoolmate of his daughter Nancy, (Nonny) from grade school through high school. Westport Bank and Trust was the only game in town for many years of my youth! True personal banking that can be duplicated by joining TRI-TOWN CREDIT UNION-Westport’s only credit union.

  11. Jill Turner Odice

    My first savings acct. Was at WBT when I was 12 years old. I still remember the big murals on the walls. My parents both hung their photos and paintings in mini shows.
    I also remember when the movie Bonnie and Clyde was showing, Tony Dohanos and some friends thought it would be funny to “stick up the bank” with toy guns…

  12. When my parents decided to settle in Westport in 1954, my father went looking for a loan to build his first home (there is an 06880 note about this from a few years ago). He walked into Westport National Bank, and Mr Romano gave him the loan on the spot — with little more than a few thousand dollars my Dad had saved from his poker winnings during the Korean War as down-payment, and the knowledge that he had bought into a share of the family business running a summer camp as collateral. (Of course, he also made a deal with my Dad for home heating oil as well!)

    I often wonder if someone of a different race would have been offered the same deal under those circumstances?

    As for the coin bank in Dan’s Blog posting, above, it was a mechanical “coin counter” promotion given away to children by many savings banks in decades past to encourage thrift. The idea was that when the coin bank was full, you might take it to the Bank (which often held the only key) and use the contents to open your first bank account!

    I did not have such a motivation as a kid growing up in Westport, but I still hold the successor to my original passbook savings account (originally at People’s Savings Bank of Bridgeport’s Westport branch, now Peoples United Bank) — Hey — ya never know when a longstanding relationship with a Bank might come in handy!

  13. Dan;

    Thanks for this post….my mother worked for Einer as a mortgage officer for many years…I have great memories of growing up in


    Peter Grieves


  14. Just sayin…WB&T, through several sales, is now part of TD Bank of Canada. My TD account is the same number that I had at WB&T.

  15. I remember climbing up those steep front steps into the bank, with my mother and walking through the heavy doors into that impressive room with the highest ceilings I’d ever seen. I was about 5 years old. Later I opened my first savings account there. The interest rate was 3%.

  16. Moved to Westport in 1952 and this was the first and only bank I ever used. Lots of memories include names like Charles Northrop, Bill Vornkahl who loaned money to this young rookie cop when times were tough. Later on, several colleagues from Westport PD worked for the bank including George Marks Sr. and Bill Stefan in security. Bob Skinner had a position there when he retired from Westport PD. It was a bank where I knew most everyone on a first-name basis and they knew me. – Dick Alley

  17. My strongest memory of Westport Bank and Trust from the 50’s – going to the bank with my Dad and thinking “will I ever be smart enough to do the things that Dad’s doing?”

  18. John F. (J-period) Wandres

    Not sure what my age was back in the day (Maybe around 12??). But around 1945-46 I opened a savings account at the bank, Passbook #301.(Something about a Boy Scout being thrifty). Into it went money earned from mowing lawns, babysitting, and my (ha-ha) allowance. Forward, not so fast, to graduation from SHS ’53, USN ’59, then two years at San Francisco State, ’62. I had to return to Westport to settle up the estate and unpaid bills left after my father died in 1954. Somehow, Passbook #301 survived. I stopped in at the bank, thinking that my $110 had been absorbed into some inter-galactic mega-banking institution, and presented Passbook #301. The teller looked at it, smiled, and handed me my $110 — plus interest –and the cancelled passbook. Her comment, “We don’t see many of those anymore.”

  19. It was my very first bank account back in the early ’60’s…and it was my mother (not my father) who insisted that I start saving and paying attention to money matters. Does anyone remember that there was a fake bank robbery attempt that took place at the WB&T – engineered by a couple of local young men who shall remain unnamed – inspired by the movie “Bonnie & Clyde?” Unfortunately, in today’s hyper-security-oriented world, these two would have ended up dead instead of with a slap on the hand.

  20. WB&T employees were a class act and it was a pleasure to stand in the hush of its soaring lobby whilst awaiting an available teller. With miles of Vermont marble, gleaming terrazzo floors, a theatrically overbuilt vault and those wonderful Lamdin murals of Westport, the bank’s architectural fabric was artfully impressive and visually rich. Westport architect, Charles Cutler’s suave, Colonial Revival program projected unimpeachable dignity at a time when institutions such as banks and post offices spent what it took. Often, while waiting in line at my current bank, I survey its synthetic awfulness and think back to another place in time.

  21. Love this image etched in my memory – it is a geometric memory somehow – the angles of the corner by the Y and the bank. Our family banked at County Federal on Main Street where I opened my first savings account by Rico’s Hair Salon where we went as well. My mom worked at County Federal as a violinist by night and bank teller by day for Mr. Hale who was very good to our family and many other Westport families, I’m sure. Westport had so many fine people then and now as well, as I read.

    And I hope…different subject.. Dan… that someone has an old photo of the lit Christmas trees on the river in downtown and that you can publish the image! 🙂 I’ve been seeing it in my mind’s eye for awhile now.

  22. Linda Pomerantz Novis

    I still have my first WB&T passbook my mom had set up for me in 1962 ( in the Weston branch of WB&T..:-)..Great people..


  24. All these comments make me wonder: 50 years from now, will anyone who’s currently growing up in Westport remember the names of the people running our banks?!

  25. Another tagline: “Soundest banking on the Sound.”

  26. I had my little first saving account there, and i remember the red match books with the bank logo on them.

  27. I remember going into the bank around age 30 with my dad, Hardie Gramatky, and meeting with Ann Rimby in her office back on the right wall. She had owned a diner we’d gone to often as a family up on the Post Road (anyone remember the name? — her last name was LaPlace then) and her daughter, Joan LaPlace, had been a close friend. She complimented my lipstick and asked where I’d bought it. When we got outside, my loving dad who didn’t give this kind of compliment often, said to me, “Asking you for the name of the color is like asking Rembrandt what color red he used to try to duplicate the same result!” I knew it wasn’t true, but a Proud Father is a wonderful thing to have had. And I visited Mrs. Rimby after that at her house on Long Lots so we could talk about her daughter Joan, who had died very young, in her 20s. Loved that bank! Linda Gramatky Smith (now moved from Westport to Pompton Plains, NJ)

  28. Back in the mid 1930s, in the height of the depression, my father’s mother went to have her fortune told. The psychic looked into her chrystal ball and said to grandma, “I see your son will soon be walking on money!” A month later dad got a job as a teller at the Westport Bank and Trust company.
    Dad’s hobby was photography and he met my mother while photographing a fashion show in Stamford. She came out on the runway in a bridal outfit. They got married soon after that. They moved into a small house off North Compo Road. My twin brother, Craig and I were born in August 1941. In 1943 my father went in the army and was a photographer for the army. After the war was over, he came home and when he went to the bank, Einer Anderson said, “Oh Russ, good to see you back. When do you want to start?” Off the top of his head, dad said, “I’m not coming back! I’m going to become a photographer.” Einer Anderson said, “Well you will probably need some money to get started. I will be glad to make you loan!” And so started Kuhner Photography. About ten years later, my mother Elizabeth Kuhner joined him and thanks to Einer Anderson Russell and Elizabeth Kuhner had a wonderfully productive life as family photographers. Many of my father’s portraits of famous actors are hanging in the Westport Coutry Playhouse.

  29. My wife and I went in to open a joint checking account in just prior to getting married in June 1975. “Not til you’re married!” we were told.. So we waited. Because they offered “the soundest banking on the Sound”!
    Dennis Jackson

  30. I found out recently.. must have been at the historical society…that the house that was there before the bank, was moved to where The Spotted Horse is. The house was built for or by (probably both) a bachelor for his friends who were stopping by between New York and Boston. He had a public hose for people to wash down their horses and their carriages. The townspeople complained about the muddy conditions.


  32. I remember it very well. My grandfather had his account there and my dad would go there almost every Saturday AM as part of a round of weekly errands that included dropping film at the camera store next to the original Oscars, Hilbert & Gough (I think that was the name) There was a very nice woman who worked as a bank officer — think her name was Ellie Banyard –and we’d always stop to talk with her. She opened my first passbook savings account. I also remember the safe deposit box area that I think you went down a flight of stairs to get to. Might not have been the most exciting way to spend a Saturday AM but it was time with my dad and glad to have those memories. A simple time that now seems so long ago.

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